Rappers Killer Mike and El-P of Run The Jewels continue to tackle complex social issues head-on. This time, it's police brutality and a staggeringly powerful new music video for the track "Close Your Eyes (And Count To F---)."
Directected by A.G. Rojas, the video stars actors Shea Whigham ("Boardwalk Empire") and Keith Stanfield ("Selma") as "Cop" and "Kid" waging an un-winnable, close contact fight against each other. As El-P put it in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post, “this is a vision of a seemingly never-ending struggle whose participants are pitted against each other by forces originating outside of themselves.”
But rather than glorifying violence or making a clear villain or hero out of either man, the video portrays both as tired, confused and at times even half-hearted about their ongoing struggle. In one scene, a canister of pepper spray goes off, squirting them in the eyes and leaving both briefly blinded.
In a statement, Rojas said the video was intended to "ignite a valuable and productive conversation about racially motivated violence" in the United States.
For me, it was important to write a story that didn’t paint a simplistic portrait of the characters of the Cop and Kid. They're not stereotypes. They're people -- complex, real people and, as such, the power had to shift between them at certain points throughout the story. The film begins and it feels like they have been fighting for days, they’re exhausted, not a single punch is thrown, their violence is communicated through clumsy, raw emotion. They've already fought their ways past their judgements and learned hatred toward one another. Our goal was to highlight the futility of the violence, not celebrate it.
"There is no neat solution at the end because there is no neat solution in the real world," Killer Mike, who in November delivered an emotional speech about the death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown during a show in St. Louis, said in a statement. "However, there is an opportunity to dialogue and change the way communities are policed in this country."